Cycle charting tips to teach our daughters and moon maidens.
At her first bleed a woman meets her power
During her bleeding years she practices it
At menopause she becomes it.
~ Native American Proverb
A woman’s first bleed- her menarche, once seen as the most powerful and important time in a woman’s life, is her time to be introduced to the super powers the reside within her. This is the time that begins forging the foundations of a woman’s self esteem. Yet, We are creating a cycle of dysfunction and disconnection that repeats throughout the life cycle of our daughters and our granddaughters. And is passed on as the ‘norm,’ to our sons and grandsons that this is “just how it is”.
As a doula, educator, and social worker pregnancy and birth has been a passion of mine. Unfortunately though we are seeing a staggering rise in birth related trauma and birth related PTSD which is flowing out into other aspects of the collective parenting journey.
In particular I have seen how shame, specifically menstrual body shame, infiltrates the transition into motherhood and negatively impacts birth and sexuality. The domino effect of the impacts on mother, baby and family ripples out and cycles through life phases, and through generations.
I have said over and over how I wished the women I worked with who were feeling so frightened and unprepared for birth had had more education and loving understanding of the magic of their bodies LONG before they became mothers! I worked in a school as a school counsellor for many years and made it my mission to re-frame the usual messages about sex, sexuality, menstruation and birth to every student I could. Schools have been doing such an intense disservice to our children when it comes to empowering body and sexual/reproductive health education for too long. This is the time when students are all together in one place and they could be given such vital information to set them up for a rich and powerful experience as adults. Instead we fill them with fear in the hope that they “wont have sex” or “won’t get pregnant”.
We all remember the scary birth videos with no real explanation. Films that are intended to fear teens to not have sex, but inadvertently ALSO sets them up for that fear continuing into adulthood. Women become pregnant fearing birth, and being ashamed of their bodies, believing they are not the capable and fierce powerhouses that they are! Without anyone else needed to bring their babies in to the world. And fear just breeds more shame. When women are ashamed of their bodies they are more likely to make choices around sex or other acts regarding their body that they wouldn’t make if they felt like the Goddess they should feel like. Someone is not treating her right!
Additionally, much of the information that many women carry with them into their mother phase is often what they have learned from their mothers, or other women in their life. When there are generations of women passing down negative birth stories and negative, shameful feelings of their body and menstruation even with school intervention, the cycle is almost impossible to break.
But not completely impossible.
We can begin healing the world by supporting young women to feel empowered by their sacred blood and the natural cycles of Mamma Earth. It is my strong belief that these empowered Maidens will grow and evolve to transition into their mother phase with a solid foundation of self love, and an empowered perspective of just how powerful their bodies and their birthing abilities are. Their birthing abilities of both children AND/OR projects – as our creative energies are centered in the womb. When we connect within, focus on our desires and how powerful we are, shame and disconnection can no longer survive.
We are seeing an influx of women and families seeking out ways to heal their body confidence, remove their internalised shame and patriarchal models that do not align, to rebalance the masculine and the feminine so that they can work in harmony together, to ultimately heal the menstrual cycle, and come into each subsequent phase of life, birth, menopause and death empowered, confident and with deep reverence.
We are finally normalising menstrual blood (which is red, not a weird blue liquid like in the tampon ads), and normalising the need to talk openly about our menstrual and sexual health!
Mothers and women alike are also realising that they felt disempowered by the lessons they learned as teens, and want to do better for their own children- healing and relearning together. Healing for themselves, healing for the past, healing for the collective, and healing for the future.
Empowered Women Empower Women
So, what messages can we as empowered women who are breaking away from these linear paradigms that no longer serve us, pass down to the younger generation?
Start with teaching the importance of charting. You can read more about how to cycle chart HERE and HERE. Listed below are some of the most important lessons we can teach our young women about the value of daily charting and reverent connection to their cycles.
1. Cycle Charting holds the key to unlocking the messages of our cycles:
Understanding your cycles gives you an incredibly personal and deep knowledge of the inner workings of your own body. When you chart, you hold the power of unlocking these messages that your body has been speaking to you all of this time! This wisdom is the foundation of your life and is your birthright.
“There’s a code.
A lady code.
It’s ancient, it’s deeply spiritual and more than that, it’s powerful. Fiercely powerful.
So powerful that it’s barely been spoken about in over 2,000 years.
Your menstrual cycle….
Yep, your period… is actually a 4-part lady code, that once cracked, will uncover a series of monthly superpowers that can be used to enhance your relationships with others, build a better business, have incredible sex + create a ‘bloody’ amazing life.” Lisa Lister- Code Red.
Our cycles reflect our life and hold messages for us about things we need to action or change
Periods and menstruation are a dirty word for many, especially those who experience severe pain each month. We are seeing increases in endometriosis and PCOS and it can just be too much to bare, understandably!
Some say that menstrual pain is not ‘normal’, but for many this statement is hurtful because for them it IS normal. What we can teach our young women is that pain and discomfort during our menstruation and period is a sign that something is significantly out of alignment. For some, charting might support them to work out exactly what that is. They may perhaps see specific triggers or markers that show clearly what needs to change, and reduce or rid themselves of pain. For others healing from pain and discomfort in their menstrual cycle may be a much more complex journey. While charting won’t necessarily heal a disorder associated with the menstrual cycle, there are women who have used it as one significant tool in their tool box on their journey to healing- without having to undergo a hysterectomy, and without necessarily having to rely on pharmaceuticals. Cycle charting is still vital for all women and bleeding people to understand and unlock important messages about how and what to change and heal.
2. Our blood is life. Menstrual blood and cervical mucous are nothing to be ashamed of, and everything to be in awe of.
Menstrual Blood and Cervical Mucous are the star players when it comes to understanding your cycles and body. They tell you a lot about your health, when you are ovulating/fertile, when things are out of alignment physically and things you may need to act on. Cervical mucous often has a bad rap, but it is such a vital part of the cycle, that goes beyond just fertility. It helps to keep the perfect pH balance in the vagina, especially for sperm that might be too early for the egg to arrive. It helps the vagina keep clean and moist just as she likes to be, and keeps illness and disease at bay. The colour, texture and amount of menstrual blood each month can tell you about your diet, hormones, and stress. It plays a huge role in understanding your health.
3. Tuning into our cycles holds much more than just information about fertility
Our menstrual cycle is divided up into 4 unique and individual phases. When someone says that a woman is very different from one week to the next, they couldn’t be more accurate. At each phase a woman is physically, emotionally, hormonally and mentally different.
Every woman and her phases are so different, but the easiest way to outline the average phases is to divide each phase into a week. The average woman experiences a 28.5 day cycle which connects with the phases of the moon.
Each phase offers us an opportunity to shine a light on certain aspects of our strengths, and while dimming the light of others. When we understand the gifts of each phase, and how to best harness them we are able to unlock our own potent potential!
These gifts span far beyond charting to understand merely when we are fertile. Fertility is just ONE phase of the cycle. When we focus on just our fertility, we are seriously missing out on everything else that our cycle can offer.
Each cycle we spiral in, and we spiral out. For 2 phases our outer lights are on and we are extroverted, expressive, nurturing and more logical minded. For the other two phases out outer lights are dimmed, and our inner lights shine bright. This is when our creative mind turns on and our logical brain quietens. We need more rest, more quiet time alone, and more time to create.
Our culture very much values our expressive phases, so many women push through and ignore the need to rest and refill- often with quite negative consequences.
Understanding when our need for self care is heightened, allows for a much more productive and vibrant outward phase. Honouring both makes us much more content, productive, happy and successful.
Read more about this HERE
4. Our wombs are our internal GPS, they are programmed to follow pleasure.
“Our bodies were built for pleasure. How do I know this? Because function follows form. Why else would we have an organ that packs 8000 nerve endings dedicated to pleasure, with no other discernible function? … eight thousand nerve endings teach a woman freedom, self reliance and an experience of her purpose in life. Eight thousand nerve endings teach her that her joy is serious business, and that for the sake of fulfilling the gift of being a woman, she must not overlook her pleasure. Rather she must be guided and informed by it as she makes her way in the world. When she ignores her pleasure, a woman can mistake her purpose and believe her function is to enslave herself to her job, or live only to serve her husband, her kids, her family. This misapprehension can turn into a life where she is utterly starved.” Mama Gena
We are often told to plan our goals and focus on the outcomes of our actions, and work backwards from there. Outcomes often being measurable and tangible things like a new car, or a new job, or a holiday. What we forget though, is how we want to feel! There are over 40 words that can be used to describe pleasure, and yet it is often the last thing we think about in our busy, faced paced, modern lives. We are ingrained to think that in order to be successful we must work hard (which in itself is supposed to be counter-intuitive to pleasure). That pleasure only comes AFTER pain.
But we are constantly being called in the direction of pleasure and joy, we just have to follow!
Cycle charting helps us tune in to our mind, body and spirit and keep track of any triggers away from how we wish to feel. When we truly understand our deepest desires and how we want to feel, that becomes our foundation of living. Then we build on top of that instead of going through the motions, forgetting about what actually brings us joy. If that is not the ultimate lesson for our Maidens, then I don’t know what is.
5. Charting with pen and paper is away to connect back to ourselves. We don’t need anyone, or anything else interpreting the workings and messages of our own body.
Are you a pen and paper lover like me? There is just something about finding that pen, that feels just right in your hand, that glides so smoothly over the paper as you excavate all of your inner thoughts and dreams. And then to be able to come back to that page and see your personality and inner most desires sprawled out so lovingly in a moment of bliss… or perhaps even rage. I’m a stationary lover, and I strive to find the pens that feel like they were meant to be in my hand. I personally love to write in rainbow colours, but I love those clicky pens with all the colours in one pen. Yep, I know, a stationary nerd. Can you relate?
But it’s not just about stationary when it comes to the real benefits of writing with the old fashioned pen and paper. Journalling, planning and cycle charting are definitely some of those things that benefit us greatly when we step back and switch off from our devices, hand on heart and pen in hand.
Some of the proven benefits of using pen and paper include:
- Feeling more invested in what we are writing about, and therefore more likely to not only continue the practice but also take any actions that arise more seriously
- Increased memory and IQ
- Brings focus back onto self as the authority of our own body and mind.
- Reduces stress and increases pleasure
- Creates a state of mindfullness, which in turn fosters increased happiness
- Aids physical and emotional healing
- Increases self love and confidence
6. Cycle charting is not a luxury, nor is it a one-size fits all.
The best thing about charting, that is so important to remind the next generation is that they are in the driver’s seat of their life. THEY hold they power of their own body- no one else! Our young people do not need to buy anything, they do not need to rely on anyone or anything else to truly hold the power of their life. In a world where everything is about what we can buy/own/accumulate we have often forgotten that sometimes we don’t actually need someone else’s advice or opinion. It’s about taking back our own bodily autonomy and being in full power and confidence, starting with living in flow with our cycles.
Cycle charting comes before any self care, any experience, product, education or anything external to yourself. It is the foundation of life, and it is your birthright. NO one can take this wisdom away from you, and no one can tell you what is right for you in your own flow. Every experience is different, every rhythm is unique and individual. When young women believe first and foremost that they are their own powerful authority, in charge of their own body, knowledgeable about their own unique cycles that make up how they live their life, imagine how different their life might be?
Would you like to support your daughter, family member or friend to build on solid foundations of self love, with a deep understanding of her own body through charting?
The Moon Maiden Planner is here! Designed for young women (either who have begun their bleed, or are preparing for) to better understand and honour their unique inner rhythms. If they are not yet bleeding they can begin developing their daily charting practice by charting with the moon. If they have crossed the sacred threshold of Menarche the young woman in your life can begin their lifelong journey of living in alignment with her womb wisdom. It is a wonderful practice done in partnership with the mothers, aunties and wise women in her life to act as a generational handover to support her empowered life in full flow, and awaken the knowledge of her potent potential.